Celebrities That Are Breaking the Stigma Around Therapy
Therapy can be a powerful tool for self-discovery and healing.
It can help you deal with life changes, create healthy coping mechanisms and improve your self-esteem. It can also help you tackle more debilitating mental health issues, like a mental illness or traumatic event. No matter what problems you face or how it impacts your life, you are always valid in seeking help and therapy can be beneficial for everyone.
Unfortunately, there is still a stigma associated with therapy and speaking about your mental health due to popular misconceptions. Some people incorrectly believe that therapy doesn't help or it makes you weak to seek help. It's difficult to speak about your mental health when you fear you may receive judgment.
However, it is becoming more normal to talk about therapy. This is partly due to the rise in celebrities speaking about their mental health and advocating for treatment. When stars with powerful influence use their platforms to normalize therapy, it impacts millions of people and corrects misconceptions. Here is a list of celebrities that are using their influence to break the negative stigma around therapy.
Pete Davison has been very open about suffering from depression and borderline personality disorder (BPD). He told the LA Times in Feb. 2020 that he went to therapy twice a week. Pete also said that he reaches out to his friends for support when he is in a dark place. The National Alliance of Mental Health reports that an estimated 1.4% of American adults suffer from BPD. It is a lesser-known illness and often misdiagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. Pete is normalizing and destigmatizing BPD by speaking about it publicly. Pete uses his platform to raise awareness about mental health and reach people who may be suffering.
Selena Gomez struggled with depression and anxiety caused by years of being in the spotlight. Selena also revealed that she has bipolar disorder on Miley Cyrus' Instagram live talk show "Bright Minded." She attributes her healing to therapy. Selena told WSJ Magazine that she had been seeing a therapist for six years and took medication to manage her mental health. In the interview, Selena said that gaining insight into her mental health problems has empowered and given her clarity.
On Oct. 5, 2020, Kerry Washington responded to a fan with a tweet that said, "I'm having a hard time sleeping. Lot of anxiety and stress. Thanks for asking." This isn't the first time Kerry has spoken about her mental health. Kerry has been candid about the importance of mental health and is a passionate advocate for therapy. "I found therapy in college and I think I really needed it. It's been invaluable," Kerry said on the Goop Podcast with Gwyneth Paltrow. "I've been in and out of therapy for the majority of my life." She reminds everyone that taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health. She compares a therapist to a physical trainer because they both keep you in healthy shape. "I want to be learning and growing," Kerry said to Gwyneth. "I want to give myself the mental and emotional support to stay in shape mentally and emotionally, for myself, for my work, for my family."
Lili Reinhart is a dedicated mental health advocate. She consistently talks about living with depression and anxiety on her social media. Lili posted on her Instagram stories on Feb. 15, 2020, about seeking therapy. Glamour posted the screenshots of the stories where Lili posted, "I'm 22. I have anxiety and depression. And today I started therapy again. And so the journey of self-love begins for me." She reminded her millions of followers that you should never be ashamed to seek therapy and that it's okay to struggle. "We are all human. And we all struggle. Don't suffer in silence. Don't feel embarrassed to ask for help," Lili said.
Gabrielle Union bravely talked to Women's Health Mag about suffering from PTSD after an extremely traumatic event at 19. Gabrielle recently told Woman's Day that she's been going to therapy weekly to deal with this year's stress, which triggered her PTSD. Gabrielle also discussed the importance of finding the right therapist in the interview. Gabrielle said that just like you need to date various people before you find the one, you might need to try different therapists before you click with the perfect one for you. "The first person you date will probably not end up being your spouse or your soulmate. And it's okay to date around, to talk to different people, and to figure out if the vibe works for you, if their philosophy about therapy matches what your needs are," Gabrielle told Woman's Day. "And if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, but keep trying until you find the fit that works."
Serena Williams started attending therapy after her devastating and controversial loss to Naomi Osaka in the U.S. Opens. Many people, including Serena, believed that the referee unfairly penalized her due to her gender. Serena wrote a captivating first-person essay in Harper's BAZAR in which she said that therapy helped her overcome the depression and self-doubt she felt in the wake of the loss. "I felt defeated and disrespected by a sport that I love—one that I had dedicated my life to and that my family truly changed, not because we were welcomed, but because we wouldn't stop winning," Serena wrote in the essay. Serena shared that she was looking for answers and therapy helped her make progress.
Ariana Grande has openly talked about struggles with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder in the past. Ariana has suffered from many tragic events in her life, from the death of her ex and beloved rapper, Mac Miller, to the tragic terrorist attack that occurred at her Manchester, England concert in 2017. Ariana said that "therapy saved my life so many times" in a Nov. 2018 tweet. She encouraged her fans to ask for help even if they're afraid. Ariana reminded her fans that they could process trauma and heal from pain. "I've got a lot of work to do but it's a start to even be aware that it's possible," Ariana tweeted.
Jay-Z opened up about going to therapy in an interview with the New York Times. In the interview, Jay-Z said he "grew so much from the experience" of going to therapy. It helped Jay-Z see that everything is connected. "Every emotion is connected and it comes from somewhere. And just being aware of it. Being aware of it in everyday life puts you at such a … you're at such an advantage," Jay-Z said. Many men are afraid to go to therapy or speak about it because there is a stigma that men shouldn't need emotional support. It's powerful when successful and influential men like Jay-Z share their positive experiences with therapy.
Taraji P. Henson
Empire Actress Taraji P. Henson believes in therapy so much that she founded the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, named in honor of Taraji's father. On the Boris Lawerence Henson Foundation website, they say the foundation aims "to eradicate the stigma around mental health issues in the African-American community" and "ensure cultural competency in caring for African Americans." In April, Taraji created free virtual therapy sessions for Black Americans because Black communities are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Taraji has publicly discussed her struggle with mental health and how it intersects with race and racism. Taraji said in a letter from the founder, "African-Americans have regarded such communication as a sign of weakness and our vision is to change that perception. I ask you to join me on this journey."
Billie Eilish spoke honestly about her mental health in a Rolling Stone interview. She disclosed she had experienced depression and body dysmorphia. Billie also experiences anxiety before touring. "I just couldn't take the fact that I had to leave again," Billie said in the interview. "It felt like an endless limbo. Like there was no end in sight. And, I mean, it's true: There really is no end in sight with touring." She credited therapy and other self-care activities, like spending time with friends, for her recovery. "I just was in such a bad place. It was too much on me. I was too much on me," Billie told Rolling Stones. "I don't want advice, because I'm not going to take it anyway. I just wanted to be heard." Billie touches on an essential part of therapy that helps you heal. Sometimes you just need someone to listen to you.
If you or are friend are struggling with mental health problems and need help, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Helpline, 1-800-622-HELP (4357). You can also check out the National Institute of Mental Health for free resources.
Are you currently struggling with mental health because of pandemic sadness and stress? Check out these tips for maintaining your mental health without isolating yourself from the world.